This novel was written in 1902. The author Edith Nesbit tells the story of five children (obviously) who come across a psammead, a sand fairy, while playing in a deserted gravel pit. This is one of the earliest examples of children left on their own who then have great adventures. Tha family goes to a house in the country on holiday when their father is called back to work and their mother leaves them to take care of her own sick mother. The children are basically on their own, minimally supervised by the help.
I loved the story. The children have uncovered a fairy who must now grant their wishes. He agrees to grant one wish a day, and informs them that the results last only 'til sunset. Of course, the children choose foolishly and then spend the rest of the day trying to survive the resulting situation. It's fun to imagine what one might wish for in their situation.
As I mentioned, the book was written on 1902. I was surprised to read the following: You know, grown up people often say they do not like to punish you, and that they only do it for your own good, and that it hurts them as much as it hurts you.
I thought for sure my parents' generation thought that up ! Nesbit's writing is clever. I enjoyed the names. They call the baby "the lamb" because when he was learning to talk all he said was baaaa. The boy Cyril is called Squirrel by his sibs and Anthea is known as Panther. The five children are loosely based on her own children combined with children her husband had with his two mistresses! One of the mistresses lived with them. The other, along with her child, lived with Nesbit's mother. Nesbit was known for her lack of conformity to the day's mores and could be seen as eccentric.
Robert, one of the children, tells his siblings, "Oh, I'll be a soldier when I grow up--- you just see if I don't. I won't go into the Civil Service, whatever anyone says."
For some reason, I just love that !